Janet Lee

Janet Lee
Photo:Janet Lee, injured by a taxi partition.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

May 12th 2005 letter to Chief Counsel Matheke USDOT

Steven W. Crowell
P.O. Box 303
Eastham, MA 02642-0303
bestpartition@verizon.net
508-255-1 480

Mr. Otto Matheke, Office of Chief Counsel, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,
400 Seventh Street, SW.
Washington, DC 20590.
NCC-20, Thursday, May 12,2005

 Consider the following; Since the USDOT understands that police cruisers and taxis are “subject to further modifications after they are purchased and before they are put into service.”, and those modifications, typically, include the “installation of a partition or barrier between the front and rear seats”, and the “installation of a barrier between the front and rear seats may reduce space in the rear seat”, and “the steel safety cage used to separate the front and rear seats in police vehicles”, “place an unyielding surface between the front and rear seats” where “an occupant moving forward is likely to contact the hard and stiff barrier between the front and rear seat”. . . (docket # NHTSA 97-3 19 1) and FMVSS 20 1 requires impact protection for that area of the back of the front seat for the benefit of rear seat occupants in the event of a collision, might there be a conflict in cruiser partition performance with requirements of CFR 49, existing FMVSS’s and other requirements of CFR 49 part 571 such as 0 108(a)(2)(A)?

I It is my understanding that CFR 49 part 571 includes some restrictions on vehicle modifications after the first sale to a consumer. Under 6 108(a)(2)(A) of the Act, may a manufacturer, distributor, dealer, or motor vehicle repair business “render inoperative’’ any device or element of design installed in accordance with a Federal motor vehicle safety standard? Is modification of a vehicle by introduction of the steel safety cage used to separate the front and rear seats in police vehicles placing an unyielding surface between the front and rear seats, where an occupant moving forward, is likely to contact the hard and stiff barrier between the front and rear seat, be considered rendering that safety feature inoperative?

Are not Federal safety standards applicable to all new motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment introduced into commerce in the United States? Is it true that types of vehicles, such as taxicabs, police cruisers, and utility vans, are within the Act’s definition of “motor vehicle” (91 02(3)), and being so, subject to all applicable safety standards? The restrictions in CFR 49 part 571 on subsequent vehicle modifications §108(a)(2)(A), would apply also, would they not? If this is true, can you resolve the apparent inconsistency in a previously stated position of a USDOT MVSCE director that - because of the controversial trade-off of occupant safety for the safety of the vehicle operator fiom assailants - there seemed to be no need to look into the possible risks associated with the use of partitions in police cruisers or taxis or to look into the possible Title 49 S301 violations by the manufacturers of those partitions.

Considering the resources dedicated to the matter of Docket No. NHTSA-97-3191 and the previously held position regarding auto partitions - (that proof of a violation of the others standards or requirements would require testing by the government and that because of the limited testing budget, the number of vehicles involved, and the controversial trade-off of occupant safety for the safety of the vehicle operator from assailants, there were no plans to test the involved vehicles for violations of other FMVSS) can you explain why belt re-coil mechanisms merit so much attention and partition impact risks seem to merit so little attention?

This policy of dismissal regarding partition safety is particularly surprising considering the number of officers who were not as lucky as Sgt. Greg Abbott of the Cobb County, Ga., Police Department, who was knocked unconscious briefly in a July, 2002 crash, and awoke to fI ames roaring behind him. The driver's door was jammed, but he was able to kick out the passenger-side window and wriggle out. Many have not regained consciousness in time to avoid being incinerated. The Rhode Island State Police (Rhode Island State Police Sgt. Arnold Buxton (401-444- 1 o 4 8 ) have, over the last 2 and a half years, had 7 cruisers, without partitions - rearended at high speeds (high enough to cause the car to be appraised as totaled)- with officers inside the vehicle. None sustained any injury more serious than a bruise or two, yet, at least thirty officers have been killed when they failed to exit a burning cruiser that was using a partition. The number of officers, other cruiser occupants and taxi occupants who have been injured less seriously than 'fatally' must be considerable. As an example.. . "Massachusetts Trooper Clings To Life After Crash - Boston Herald - A venerated state trooper lay near death last night, the victim of an alleged teenage drunk who told police he was asleep at the wheel when he rear-ended her parked cruiser at more than 90 mph. ' ' It's bad. It's real bad. There was a lot of head trauma," state police Maj. John 1. Kelley said last night of trooper Ellen Engelhardt, 50, of Marion who had not regained consciousness since yesterday's early morning crash, 50 minutes before her shift was to end. ' ' She's been in and out of surgery," Kelley said. "Colonel (Thomas) Foley of the state police has asked that everyone remember trooper Engelhardt in their thoughts and their prayers."

There is also the matter of 'warning', which should be immediately referred to the DOJ. - I have a Plexiglas cage, yes a CAGE in my patrol car and I refuse to drive a car without it. It has caused me great pleasure on many occasions when an unruly drunk sits spitting in the back and that damn family of deer decides to trot across the road causing me to act swiftly and stomp on the brakes to avoid a collision. Too bad dopey in the back wouldn't listen to me when I said to quit the crap. I am sure there have been situations in the past where Officers were injured or killed by them, but I have confidence in my equipment. - on-line user name amadcOl Or "I have 1 rule: Be cool w/me and I'll be cool w/you or get jiggy w/me and you'll have to go by the hospital before we get to the jail." On-line user name - Rad Diver Or on the internet.

This message was available for anybody in the world to read. Tim Ray - a police officer of Monee, Illinois - wrote the following message to me "HERE'S SOMETHING I LIKE TO Do WHEN YOU GET AN UNFRIENDLY PASSENGER IN YOUR CAR WHO LIKES TO RUN HIS MOUTH, PUT HIM ON THE PASSENGER SIDE WHERE THE WIRE SCREEN IS, AND WHILE HE IS RJJNNING HIS MOUTH TELL HIM THAT YOU CAN'T HEAR HIM SO HE GETS RIGHT UP TO IT, AND WHEN HIS FACE GETS RIGHT THERE. SLAM ON YOUR BRAKES, I GUARANTEE IT SHUTS THEM Up EVERY TME. "

Please help me understand how cruiser and taxi partition manufacturers have been able to 'fly under the radar', regarding federal motor vehicle safety law, for the last 30 years.

Sincerely,

Steve Crowell
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